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Chinese Educators Visit Bellingham Schools, Students and Staff Share Who We Are

Educators in Action

Stephanie Korn, director of Teaching and Learning with focus areas in world languages and international education, summarizes the recent visit of Chinese educators to Bellingham Public Schools. The visits were one of many of cultural exchange between China and our district that enhance global-mindedness.

Since 2012, Bellingham Public Schools has participated in the Chinese Bridge Delegation, sponsored by and funded by the College Board and the Confucius Institute. Every year, district administrators join other teams from across the learn about Chinese culture and explore developing relationships with Chinese schools that enhance global perspectives and understanding. This annual travel exchange supports The Bellingham Promise outcomes of developing ‘historians and global thinkers,’ and ‘well-rounded community members engaged with the broader world.’

Korn writes:

In June 2016, Bellingham Public Schools was first contacted by CanEdu Consultants, an organization in Vancouver, British Columbia that supports international relationships with Canadian school districts.

The Chinese districts that were visiting some of their sister schools in British Columbia last June also wanted to learn about the American educational system while they were there. Being right over the border, CanEdu reached out to see if we could accommodate a visit.  Six teachers and administrators from Shandong Province in China visited our district for 2 days, June 6-7, and learned through seminars facilitated by DTL directors, and visiting Lowell, Parkview, Fairhaven and Kulshan.

The visit to our schools was deemed such a success that the Chinese delegation sought to further develop and expand the start of an ongoing relationship. CanEdu brought me to Shandong Province in November where I gave a presentation to 100 Chinese administrators at an international education conference. I also visited with eight school districts, all eager to establish relationships with our district for mutual learning. When visiting with one of those districts, Shandong Normal University, they shared their desire to visit our district again for professional learning and this became the January 2017 delegation.

This delegation was composed of 10 teachers.  They were welcomed formally by the superintendent and deputy superintendent and provided an overview of our schools and city. Teaching and Learning directors provided a summary of educational systems in the United States and the state of Washington, including our instructional framework and teacher evaluation system, professional development model, and our early childhood approach.

The delegation spent most of their time in Bellingham visiting schools, meeting with the principals, visiting classrooms and talking with teachers and students. During their time, they visited Geneva, Happy Valley, Parkview and Wade King elementary schools, Fairhaven and Kulshan middle schools, and Sehome High School. Our district Chinese teachers currently teaching Mandarin at Happy Valley, Wade King, Fairhaven and Sehome supported the international visitors and helped them feel welcome.

The interactions at all the schools were beneficial in numerous ways. Students and staff had an opportunity to showcase work, unique school initiatives and strong instructional practices.

Our district students had the opportunity to serve as leaders and school ambassadors taking the delegation on tours and sharing information about their schools. Several of our musical choir and instrumental groups had the opportunity to perform. Teachers and students were able to interact with people from a very different culture, learned about schools in China, and were exposed to native Chinese language conversation.

The visiting Chinese teachers taught lessons in two of our schools about Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. Students learned about the historical legend on which the Spring Festival holiday is based and created Chinese paper cuts.

Cultural exchange opportunities like the visiting Chinese delegation foster a deep appreciation of diversity. These exchanges are foundational in strengthening global understanding and relationships and in establishing future opportunities with schools in other countries.


Photos 1 through 11: The Chinese Delegation visits Happy Valley Elementary School in Jan. 2017.


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